How To Implement Self Care Into Your Day As A Special Needs Parent

Written By: The Green Crunchy Mother

Disclaimer: If none of these strategies are working for you, and you are not feeling any better, please consult with a medical professional.

I have a confession to make. As a special needs parent, I can get really, really tired and discouraged. Some days, I feel no one comprehends my daily struggles with autism.  Sound familiar?

Free stock photo of black-and-white, person, hands, woman

I understand first hand how exhausted and mentally drained one can get from caring for a child on a daily basis. When providing care, we can easily find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and see no relief in the near future. The constant demands of caretaking can leave no room for rest. This can leave you feeling drained, depressed, anxious, exhausted, and on the verge of burn out. Struggles with mental health is a serious issue that comes along with parenting a child that has special needs.

adult, alone, bank

Have you ever tried to sit down, grab a coffee, or read a book while caring for your special needs child?  If you have tried, you probably know first hand how difficult this is because a child with special needs requires constant attention.

So what can you do? After doing some research, and using my own strategies that I implement in my own life, I discovered that many parents have found success using some of these self-care strategies. This post will tell you what you need to know to make sure that you fit in some self-care throughout your day.

What Is Self -Care?

According to Fort Gary’s Woman’s Resource Center  , self-care is defined as:

“Self-care is care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self-care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others”.

From personal experience, if we don’t take the time to “refuel” ourselves, it can feel like we are “running on empty”.

So what can you do? The next section will explore this.

Examples Of  Self Care Activities That I can Start Today

 Keep a Journal– Journaling is a healthy way of staying motivated and keeping track of your progress. A journal is a safe way to express yourself and write about your day. You could write about what you are grateful for, and not so grateful.  You can purchase a pretty journal and some pens at any dollar store.

White Blank Notebook

Exercise- You are probably thinking, how can I possibly fit in exercise with my already demanding day? You can do some jumping jacks, or jump rope while your child is doing an activity or watching television. For me, taking time to exercise almost every day is my best form of self-care. Have you heard of the saying, “You’re only one workout away from a good mood”? Many of us can’t leave the house during the day to go and exercise, so this is why I recommended fitting this into your daily routine. Another one of my favorites when I can’t leave the house for a jog is “running in place”. I also keep a set of weights and kettle balls in the house. Chose a form of exercise that you will enjoy and stick with.  You will see the many benefits of feeling re-centered and more relaxed.

Kettle Bell Beside Adidas Pair of Shoes

Confide In Someone That You Trust- Talk openly with a friend or a family member that you can trust. Sometimes just being heard can make all the difference.

activity, adult, barbecue

Make Shower and Bath Time More Pleasurable- That’s right, turn this time into a self-care ritual. You can purchase bath bombs, bubble baths, and other relaxing smelling soaps. Purchase some candles. A study that was conducted in 2009 in the International Journal Of Neuroscience discovered: “credible evidence that odors can affect mood, physiology and behavior.” Some of my favorite scents for relaxation are: lavender, jasmine or ylang-ylang.

Black Shower Head Switched on

Stay Hydrated- Don’t forget to drink that water. I like to add strawberries or cucumbers to boost the flavor. You can purchase yourself an eco-friendly water bottle as well.

Clear Glass H2o Bottle

Use your Creativity- Adult coloring books have become very trendy. Art therapy has many health benefits. It has helped many relax and feel less anxious.

art, arts and crafts, child

Get Yourself Outdoors-  A study conducted in 2010 by Environmental Health and Preventative Medicine discovered that spending time in nature can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, lowers blood pressure, and lowers pulse rate.

White Blooming Flower Under the Tree during Daytime

Read- I love getting lost in a good book or magazine. It helps “take me away” and temporarily takes my mind off the day to day matters.

White Ceramic Teacup With Saucer Near Two Books Above Gray Floral Textile

Get Enough Sleep- If at all possible, don’t cheat yourself out on sleep. It’s one of the most important things that you can do for yourself. A well-rested body and mind will make your day feel less challenging and overwhelming. Sneak in a nap during the day if you can.

adult, attractive, beautiful

It’s Ok to Say No- It’s ok to set limits and say no if someone is asking you for a favor. This is all part of the self-care plan. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!

adult, blur, business

Listen to Music- Listening to music can be very therapeutic. Scientists have discovered that music can have mood-boosting effects. Music playing in the background often helps me feel more grounded and calm.

Woman with headphones listening music

Laughter- As the old saying goes, “Laughter is the best medicine”. As hard as it may seem on some days, I try to laugh it off. Not always easy, but sometimes it is the only way.

2 Women Smiling Near Black Textile

Find Your Tribe– Last but not least, find your tribe. I can’t express this enough. Connect with other autism and special needs parents. They are out there! I have found many meaningful friendships using Facebook groups. Join local groups in your community. Knowing that we are not alone is half the battle.

photography of group of people standing near outdoor during daytime

Caring for a special needs child will never be easy. It will test you, and even take you to some of your darkest moments.Now that you have some excellent strategies for caring for yourself, you’re ready to start feeling your best. Get started today!

What form of self-care are you using now in your life? What is working? What is not working?

Disclaimer: If none of these strategies are working for you, and you are not feeling any better, please consult with a medical professional.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.